“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.“-Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
A few days ago, I broke my writer’s block to write Ten Ways to Say “I love You” Daily in the aftermath of the deaths of Kobe and Gigi Bryant and seven others in a helicopter crash. I was struck by many of the remembrances and tributes to Kobe and Gigi Bryant but Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neil had a tribute that stood out to me. He said that when he meets the children of his friends, he introduces himself to them as “Uncle Shaq”. He doesn’t care if the kids know about his storied career as a basketball player or not. He wants those kids to know he is their uncle. The links to Shaq’s tributes are at the end of this article. I love the fact that Shaq brought up the importance of having friends as members of our extended family.
I believe we can join a family in three ways: birth, marriage and adoption. We cannot choose the families we are born into but it becomes a part of our identity. When we marry someone or when someone marries into our family, we are tied together because of a marriage. That person becomes part of the fabric of our story when it comes to things dealing with our family. Then we have adoption into a family which can happen in many ways. This can happen when parents adopt a child or an adult. It can happen when friends are welcomed into our family. It can happen when we join a church or an organization. What we have in common makes us invested in one another.
I have many people in my tribe who are not related to me by blood. That is fine because I believe God placed us in community on purpose. Jesus had disciples and an extended community of their families. Jesus is God and did not need anyone else but he did this for us. He did this to show us, we cannot go through life alone. He did this to remind us that when we are in community, we are stronger. So I would ask you to prayerfully consider deepening the bonds of friendship and love by increasing your tribe. I know from first hand experience the beauty of having people who are with me through good and bad times. May we learn to love more deeply today and always.